Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 7, 2005
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
Citation: Byler, R.K., Anthony, W.S. 2005. Prototype moisture sensor for cotton module bottoms. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. Vol. 21(6): 971-977. Interpretive Summary: After cotton is picked mechanically it is formed into modules containing roughly 22,000 lbs. of seed cotton. These modules are later transported to the cotton gin for processing. The cotton in these modules is usually dry enough for safe storage requiring limited drier heat at the gin, but occasionally the modules are built in low lying locations and rain causes the bottom several inches to become very wet. Automated drying systems typically respond to the average moisture content of the cotton and will keep the drying temperature low when dry modules with wet bottoms are encountered. This situation often results in choking of the gin stand and significantly decreases the efficiency of ginning and the value of automated drying control. An electronic system was designed, installed, tested, and calibrated in a commercial gin which was able to detect wet seed cotton on the bottom of the module. This sensor provided sufficient warning to enable responses of the automated seed cotton drier control system. This technology will help prevent downtime at the gin, reduce wasted heating energy, and help maintain fiber quality, especially fiber length and length uniformity.
Technical Abstract: An automated seed cotton moisture control system can sense that the cotton in a module is dry enough to gin without additional heating, yet the bottom few inches of the module may be much wetter in its entirety or in isolated locations. The usual sensors are designed to detect the average moisture content. If wet cotton enters the ginning stream it can cause the gin stand to choke, thereby causing considerable problems for the gin operation. An automated sensor was developed to detect the moisture content of the bottom of the module. This sensor was operated for 5 years in a commercial gin with minimal problems. It was calibrated and produced usable data over the range of interest (12% to 16%). This sensor can be used to warn the ginner of imminent drying problems thereby reducing unnecessary downtime and operating expenses.